Today, I changed the world. Oh, no! You didn’t notice? That’s okay, none to worry. Had I not been prompted to consider how Joseph must have dealt with the flash briefing he got from the angel Gabriel concerning Mary, his wife to be, I would have missed it myself. How did it happen? I am so glad you asked.
Given the first century culture in Palestine, this unanticipated announcement to Joseph may well have triggered a panic attack. At the least, several deep breaths. If I’m Joseph, my side of this dreamy conversation goes like this:
“Mr. Angel, I’ve got a problem with this. If the people think I took advantage of Mary, acted against her will, her dad will be stringing up the bow, and I’m dead. On the other hand, If the people think she is a willing participant, she’s dead. I know it’s no big deal for an angel. It’s easy for you to say, ‘Fear not.’ You get to fly back to heaven. All is merry and bright on your end. Me? I’m fresh out of wings. I’ve got to stay here and face the people — not so good a spot to be in if you’re human.”
That’s not how it went at all, though, is it? No, quite to the contrary:
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.
— Matthew 1:24
Fear of what others think of you can be paralyzing, I know. I have stood petrified over people’s opinions of me, even when I didn’t know what those opinions were. I want to be liked. I want to be respected. I want my friends and co-workers to think well of me. I want my family, my wife and children to be proud of the man I am. So, to guard against making a wrong decision and leaving a bad impression, I have more than once failed God, opting to go with the flow instead of listening to him and following his lead.
That day when Joseph, regardless of what others may have thought of him, woke up from his angelic visitation and took Mary as his wife, he changed the world. In like manner, when I got out of bed and came to church to hear God’s Word preached, dropped my check in the offering basket, took a seat with my wife and sang Angels We Have Heard On High, I too changed the world.
No, it may not be readily apparent, but it’s happening. Every stroke of the brush on the canvas of God’s redemptive plan is a part of a finished work we will one day see. Until then, we must remember. Our obedience at times may seem inconsequential and feel uncomfortable but, as our pastor said, “Extraordinary acts of God start with ordinary acts of obedience.”
For I consider that the sufferings [mistreatment] of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
— Romans 8:18